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Imaginative artists of area schools honored with 48th Annual Tri-County Exhibit

Imaginative artists of area schools honored with 48th Annual Tri-County Exhibit

When artist Amber Smith, a sophomore at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, walked into the main gallery of The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster for the May 1 Tri-County awards ceremony, she was easily recognized by the more than 400 guests gathered.

Smith’s own likeness, framed as a 48-inch-by-48-inch oil canvas self-portrait, was one of the central focal points among the nearly 500 artistic works on display in the Bachman Gallery at the 48th Annual Junior/Senior High School Exhibition hosted by South Shore Arts.

Award ribbons decorate Gracie Kenda’s “Le Devil De Devovement” at the 48th Annual Tri-County Junior/Senior High School art exhibition at the Center For Visual & Performing Arts in Munster, Indiana Tuesday May 10, 2022. Kenda, is a senior at Crown Point High School. ( Andy Lavalley for the Post-Tribune) (Post-Tribune)

“I’d not ever met Amber, but I recognized her immediately,” said Brandon Johnson, South Shore Arts gallery coordinator.

“Her self-portrait is definitely a standout and eyes are drawn to it.”

Now through May 21, the free student exhibit at The Center for Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road, in Munster, includes junior and senior high schools from Lake, Porter and La Porte counties in Indiana and schools in south suburban Cook County in Illinois, all annually invited to submit artwork for the juried exhibition, which features original artwork created by students in grades six through 12 from public, private and parochial schools. This year, 18 high schools and four middle schools participated.

Prizes totaling more than $8,000 were awarded this year, including the Alexandra Gardner Riddle Memorial Youth Award for $500, which was presented to Smith for her larger-than-life self-portrait.

Gallery coordinator Brandon Johnson in front of some of the 48th Annual Tri-County Junior/Senior High School art exhibition at the Center For Visual & Performing Arts in Munster, Indiana Tuesday May 10, 2022. The exhibit features students work from Lake, Porter and south Cook counties. ( Andy Lavalley for the Post-Tribune) (Post-Tribune)

The most coveted annual award, the Donald H. Berwanger Scholarship Award for $2,000, given to a graduating high school senior to attend an accredited college or university to study fine art, was presented to Gracie Kenda of Crown Point High School.

The expansive exhibit of original pieces, some for sale, include artistic mediums ranging from charcoal, acrylic, watercolor, oil, pastels, pencil and pen drawings to yarn, clay, sculpture, paper, fiber, photography, mobiles, digital and more.

This year’s juror, the selection judge for awarding ribbons to distinguish top achievers, was Hannah Hammond-Hagman, director of the Chesterton Art Center.

“Morgan Township, Hebron and Chesterton were among some of the top schools who garnered a fair share of this year’s ribbons and honors,” Johnson said.

Student work is displayed at the 48th Annual Tri-County Junior/Senior High School art exhibition at the Center For Visual & Performing Arts in Munster, Indiana Tuesday May 10, 2022. The exhibit features students work from Lake, Porter and south Cook counties. ( Andy Lavalley for the Post-Tribune) (Post-Tribune)

“And we also have some new schools participating this year and a few schools, like Bishop Noll Institute, who haven’t entered in a few years were back this year.”

Johnson said creative sculptures have especially captured the attention of gallery guests during this year’s exhibit, specifically, a ceramic high-top sneaker, with real laces, depicted as trapped in a clutches of a rusty, sprung animal trap. Titled “Caught Like a Coyote,” the work was dreamed-up and created by Hebron High School senior Myah Donovan. Just a few pedestals away, Brooklyn Botma, a sophomore at Lowell High School, used ceramics to recreate a McDonald’s Happy Meal box, complete with shiny, glazed ceramic Chicken McNuggets.

Some of the key sponsors and donors for this year’s exhibit include BMO Harris, Millies Engineering Group and Dyer Construction.

“In the spring of 2020, the Tri County exhibit still happened, but it had to be entirely virtual as an online exhibit to view,” said Bridget Covert, the director of exhibitions for South Shore Arts.

“Last year, for 2021, this annual popular exhibit was both in person as well as having a virtual viewing option too, depending on how the area schools opted to participate. It’s great to have a big return this year with the entire exhibit back in gallery and drawing lots of buzz.”

For more information on exhibitions at South Shore Arts visit www.southshoreartsonline.org.

Philip Potempa is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

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